April 4, 2012


An explosive joint report by a top Chinese scholar and a leading American analyst argue the two countries are locked in a corrosive cycle of distrust that, if left unchecked, could lead to outright antagonism within 10-15 years. The idea behind the report was for each co-author to write candidly about how his country views the other.

A grim narrative emerges from their conclusions. Both countries see the relationship as a zero-sum competition. China thinks America’s time has come and gone; that it is on a path of inexorable decline; and although it expects Washington to fight to retain its position in the world, Beijing is confident it will prevail in the long run. The American attitude is equally disturbing. Many senior policymakers and law enforcement officials believe China is seeking to overthrow America from its hegemonic perch and are convinced the Chinese government is designing both its cyber capabilities and its defense systems specifically for American targets. . . .

A zero-sum adversarial relationship between China and America serves neither country well. America’s national interest is achieved via an international system of stability and cooperation among powers great and small. If the opinions expressed in this report are an accurate reflection of what leaders on both sides of the Pacific are thinking then the coming decades will require a considerable commitment of American resources to preserve the global order.

That’s okay. We’ve got “smart diplomacy” addressing this problem now. Uh oh.

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